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The Silent Truth

August 25, 2010

Jonathan Hickman’s crazy tale of the past of the Marvel Universe continues with S.H.I.E.L.D. #3.  And here, we get to meet the leader of the Brotherhood of the Shield in the present day.  Isaac Newton was one of many geniuses called by the Brotherhood and its then leader, Galileo Galilei, back hundreds of years ago.  In the present day, Isaac, who is somehow still alive, explains that the Brotherhood hinged on the Five-Fold Understanding for “managing reality.”  First was the Greater Science.  Then we flash back to Rome, 1582, when Galileo defeated Galactus with the aid of the strange glowing man and a machine they perfected that once failed when used by Abu Musa Jabir Ibn Hayyan Al Azdi in Baghdad in 750, accidentally causing the Dark Ages.  The machine drew on the energy of many members of the Brotherhood, and although it killed them, Galactus was defeated, and the remaining members continued the advancement of science.  All because they understood the meaning of sacrifice.  Newton was different, and Galileo encouraged him, sending him off to a Deviant city, where he was forced to have sex with one of their number.  However, he ultimately got access to their holy book and the second part of the understanding, the Hidden Arts.  He got the third part, the Secret Alchemy, from Nostradamus when he kidnapped him.  This gave Newton immortality, which as he said, gave him clarity of thought, allowing him to deduce the other two parts, the Quiet Math and the Silent Truth.  That truth was that the world was to end in 2060.  He then killed Galileo because Galileo was a relic.  Then we come back to S.H.I.E.L.D. #2, when Nostradamus is giving that prediction, and as we see, he was giving it to Newton.  Newton then heads up to investigate the rumbling, thinking about he knows better than to say “this is not how the world ends,” as he knows exactly how it ends.  Then we come to the present, as he him arrive just in time for Leonid and Leonardo da Vinci to show up.

My goodness.  Jonathan Hickman is awesome.  I thought that having Isaac Newton as the villain in this series was kind of a random choice.  But if you look at information on him, he actually did believe the world would end in 2060, and he dabbled in the occult, including in alchemy.  It makes perfect sense!  Plus, there’s the stuff at the end with Galactus, Galileo, and Pope Gregory XII about the Gregorian Calendar.  That is exactly when it was adopted, and not only that, the shift was exactly ten days, which is how much Gregory wanted the world to forget.  Hickman is taking all of these facts from history and weaving them into this grand tapestry that also just happens to be a part of the Marvel Universe.  It’s just brilliant.  This whole issue, I am sure, will be more clear in the issues to come, as some of the more… ambiguous parts of the Five-Fold Understanding become clearer.  There’s also the issue of the Deviant woman, who looks suspiciously like the creature from Leonid’s memories (is he Newton’s son with her?!) and that glowing man, which relates to the Night Machine and the woman he was with in Leonid’s memories (who Leonid believes to be his parents, but are they?!).  And Leonid and that glowing man are all a part of some grand human machine, similar to what Galileo made (he made another Earth?!), and it somehow unlocks the true potential of humanity.  It’s just brilliant.  It’s both backward and forward-looking.  And Dustin Weaver really has surprised me.  He seemed so mediocre before, but his work in this book is just gorgeous.  Yes, part of that is due to his colorists, but still, he very much surprised me.  This is definitely a book of rising stars.  Now, I know I said that Secret Warriors may be my favorite of the three books that Hickman writes.  Well, with this issue, I know that S.H.I.E.L.D. is my favorite.  Hickman is just being so ambitious with this title on so many levels, and his brilliance comes through on every level.  He’s securing a place in the comic book history books for himself, and we all get to come along on the awesome ride.

Plot: 9.3      Art: 9.2      Dialogue: 9.2      Overall: 9.3

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